Tokyo Olympics preparation tops agenda

    51

    FOOTBALL chief Mariano Araneta Jr., the Philippine Olympic team chief of mission, is set to meet with Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez today to discuss the country’s build-up and participation in the Tokyo Olympic Games on July 24 to Aug. 9 in the Japanese capital.

    “I was invited by chairman Butch to a meeting tomorrow and we will discuss our Olympic preparations as well as our participation in Tokyo,” the Philippine Football Federation president told Malaya-Business Insight yesterday.

    Ramirez earlier announced that the PSC had set aside P60 million for the preparation and participation of the country’s Olympic-bound campaigners.

    President Duterte announced last month that he was augmenting the support with another P100 million during the courtesy call at Malacanang of the Filipino medalists in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

    Once the national team has been finalized, the PSC aims to house the country’s standard-bearers in Tokyo at least two months before the start of the Olympics.

    Ramirez said he is hopeful the country would be able surpass the 13 athletes in eight sports who represented the country in the 2016 Rio Games.

    Pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena, who won his first SEA Games gold medal at the New Clark City Athletic Stadium in Capas, Tarlac; and gymnast Carlos Yulo, who bagged two gold and five silvers medals in the same meet, are the country’s first Olympic qualifiers.

    Among those tipped to join them are skateboarding champion Margielyn Arda Didal and weightlifter Hidylin Diaz, a Rio Olympic silver medalist. The two resume their Olympic qualifying bid next month.

    Didal, who like Diaz won a gold medal in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, will see action in the first Olympic qualifier on Feb. 4 to 9 in Melbourne, Australia. She is currently ranked No. 14 in the world rankings.